Tag Archives: Shame

Post #66: The Mental Pod.

Post #66: The Mental Pod

Post #66: The Mental Pod.

Sometimes, life is hard.
And sometimes, you just have to acknowledge that life is hard and being an adult sucks.

Today I was reminded of a poster I used to see hanging somewhere at my high school. It had the photo of a cute cat with a message written over it along the lines of ‘nothing is so bad that you cannot talk about it’. It stuck with me.

Nothing.

One of the ways I have found cathartic in dealing with wavering states of mental health, both my own and others, is by listening to the Mental Pod. The weekly podcast is the brainchild of comedian Paul Gilmartin. He’s not a therapist, but he does a damn good job of uniting all kinds of people and talking about the sensitive issues surrounding mental health. I truly admire his openness and his honesty.

“It’s not a doctor’s office. Think of it more as a waiting room that doesn’t suck.”
–Paul Gilmartin

Each week he interviews guests on the Mental Pod and encourages them to talk about their life, experiences and thoughts. It’s the only podcast I regularly tune in to. It’s enlightening to hear Paul talk about living in the up-and-down world of a person with mental health issues because I come from a world where these things were not really not discussed.

I prefer listening to his female guests (I feel a greater affinity with the struggles of the female mind), but I enjoy hearing male guests pinpoint something deep and dark I have within myself. The irrational fears we all have transcend our chromosomal differences. The best part of the podcast is towards the end: Paul and his guests have a fear-off and a love-off where they trade their own secret fears and loves. It may not sound like much, but when you have someone else verbalise your deepest, darkest secrets, the shame evaporates.

You feel that, too? I’m not alone!

I love how people in San Francisco leave you notes at the crossing. It’s a city that has many mental health issues.

So much of western culture is about appearances. When people ask you how you are, you respond “Great, and you?”, without pausing to consider how you really are feeling. Melancholia is not an acceptable state to declare yourself in. But that all changed after I started listening to the Mental Pod. Paul Gilmartin has made it okay to say “pretty lousy”, or “this week has been a little rough, because I’ve been feeling depressed”. I still continue the standard lines (“I’m well”) with acquaintances, but for my family and close friends, I tell it to them straight. And I have felt such a swell of goodwill, love and affection. I am being real and they are more inclined to be real in return.

Check out the Mental Pod podcast on iTunes, or stream it through the Mental Pod website.

Post #46: Friendship.

Post #46: Friendship

Post #46: Friendship.


A friend of mine is having a pretty tough time right now. She could have cancelled our plans to meet up for drinks on Friday night, but she didn’t. Instead, we found this small, quiet downtown bar and set about dissecting the problem and weighing up the options.

I really felt for her. There have been plenty of times when I have been in her shoes, and everything looks so dire. And no doubt there will be plenty more. I was just happy she stuck around to talk to me about it.

On my way to meet her, I had just finished a section on shame in Dr Brene Brown’s book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’. These words were bouncing around my head, and then she said the magic words: ‘I’m just so embarrassed’.

According to Dr Brown,

Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement. When something shaming happens and we keep it locked up, it festers and grows. It consumes us… Shame loses its power when it is spoken.

It was powerful to walk into this situation knowing that. So I asked her some tough questions about the source of her shame, about the problems she was having and about the choices she has to make. We ended up having an empowering conversation, tackling the issues head on and removing the stigma of shame that hovered over the issue like a black cloud. I tried my best to give her some perspective, to help her ask some of the tough questions and gave her some positive reinforcement. She is so very talented, and this may well be her opportunity to start something else. I have every faith in her.

Her reaching out to me meant more than she could imagine, because that sense of connection here is something I feel I have been lacking. I love being there for my friends, and I feel so grateful for their love and guidance in return. Yet there’s a very big part of me that is always pulling me away to from wherever I am — to the next move, the next city, the next life. Maybe I should be consciously investing more of myself here than I previously have been.

***

Welcome to the forty-sixth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.